India protests U.K. cap on immigration

Anand Sharma raises the issue during meeting with British Prime Minister

India has protested over the British government's decision to impose a cap on immigration from non-European Union countries, saying it threatens free movement of businesses and professionals.

The issue was raised by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma when he met Prime Minister David Cameron and Business Secretary Vince Cable here on Monday, shortly after Home Secretary Theresa May announced a temporary cap pending consultations with businesses and universities on plans for a permanent annual quota from next April.

Mr. Sharma told journalists that he conveyed India's strong “concern” over the issue and was assured that New Delhi's view would be taken into account during the consultations.

“I told them that any new regime has to be investor-friendly and must not come in the way of free movement of businesses and professionals. We were assured that our concerns would be taken into account,” Mr. Sharma said.

The cap might also affect fee-paying, non-EU students, the lifeline of Britain's cash-strapped universities.

The move has sparked a political row, with the government itself reported to be divided over the wisdom of an arbitrary quota system following representations from business groups and educational institutions that it would damage the economy and deprive Britain of the much-needed skilled professionals.

The British Chambers of Commerce warned that a rigid limit risked “damage to the economy and future economic growth,” while the British Medical Association said it would hamper recruitment of overseas doctors to fill shortage in government hospitals.

Britain's National Health Service is effectively run by Asian doctors, mostly Indians.

Mr. Sharma described his meeting with Mr. Cameron as “positive” and “focussed.”

“From my discussions, it is clear that Britain is keen to elevate its relations with India to a higher level,” he said, adding that this would include increased cooperation in technology, trade and education.

Monitoring mechanism

Mr. Sharma, accompanied by a business delegation, said the two countries agreed to set up a mechanism to monitor implementation of joint policies in trade and other areas. He said Mr. Cameron was likely to visit India by July-end.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 12:12:00 PM |

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